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Group trying to breathe life back into Liberty treasure

POSTED: April 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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A garden club member works on a flower bushing in the Leconte-Woodmanston gardens.

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Mary Beth Evans, executive vice president of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation, is excited about plans for the former rice plantation near Riceboro.
To remember all of those who were slaves at LeConte, more than 230 people, a memorial is being planned. Evans is hoping to have a memorial brick walk and a chapel so visitors will have a place to reflect after visiting the memorial. The chapel will also be available for weddings, concerts and other events.
A visitor's center is also in the works. The land for the center is north of LeConte and is owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. in Jesup. Evans has spoken with the owner about buying the land for the center but no deals have been made yet.
The center would be a science center in order to honor the LeConte family's legacy. Louis LeConte, who developed the plantation, was a physician who began to develop a garden in 1813. He studied and grew many different vegetables, trees, and flowers.
Evans is hoping to get pledges from people to back the construction of the science center, chapel and memorial.
"I haven't heard anyone say this is a bad idea," she said.
Evans said she and the foundation board members have discussed ideas for potential monthly activities. Super Saturday would be held twice a month with topics geared toward children. Bird watching would be another possible regular activity.
"We have groups that want to come out here," Evans said.
She said volunteers are needed to guide tours and tend to the gardens. Someone who would be interested in doing research is also needed.
Memberships to the foundation are $25 for individuals, $35 for families, and $100 for business sponsors. In-kind donations are also accepted.
The Foundation is working on compiling a list of those who were slaves in Liberty County circa 1860. So far, approximately 1,500 names have been collected. Oral histories are also being collected, and the foundation hopes to locate slave cemeteries in the ounty.
Evans and board members want to "preserve the beauty, serenity and spirituality" of LeConte.
LeConte Woodmanston is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call Evans at 658-4691 or 884-6500, email info@leconte-woodmanston.org, or visit www.leconte-woodmanston.org.

 

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